On May 18th, Election Day, Ed Rendell went to the Famous 4th Street Deli for lunch, as he has for years. It’s an Election Day tradition, a gathering of political heavyweights and the media. Michael Nutter was there. Lynne Abraham. Buzz Bissinger. Lawyer Arthur Makadon. Chris Matthews. The Daily News’s Gar Joseph. Political consultant Neil Oxman. Philly Mag editor Larry Platt. Rendell — as mayor and now governor — would come to eat and schmooze.
This year, he brought someone new: a tall, striking blonde, more than two decades younger than the Governor. They landed in the middle of the deli; TV cameras angled in. Everyone stared, and the attendant big shots wondered: Just what the hell is Ed doing?
For months, rumors had been circulating about a certain woman. Which is nothing new. This magazine, in fact, has written about Rendell’s alleged womanizing. Back in 1997, when the rumor mill decreed things had gotten so bad that Ed and Midge Rendell were getting a divorce, Midge, a federal judge, addressed the gossip. “Puhleeze, would you go over and check the courthouse?” she practically begged a reporter. “It’s so false. … It’s just ridiculous.”
In 2000, State House Democratic leader Bill DeWeese ranted loudly to a reporter in a hotel bar that “Ed Rendell has been fucking my wife!,” who at the time was a comely blond lobbyist, Holly Kinser, frequently seen with Rendell. The accusation, since recanted by DeWeese, was denied by Kinser and Rendell; his political career—and the Rendells’ marriage — kept rolling along.
This latest rumor, though, did sound different: Last year, the Governor dropped 60 pounds. There was talk of another blonde. A former beauty pageant winner. One who works for the state, in Harrisburg — someone who works for him, in other words, which could take the ethical complications beyond the bedroom. Ed, so the story went, had fallen hard — and was dropping broad hints to that effect himself.
Then, there she was, paraded into the Famous by Rendell: Dr. Kirstin Snow — as Rendell is always careful to introduce her.
The Daily News took a photo, from the street, of the Governor and Snow sitting side by side in a window (cropping out Makadon and Bissinger at the same table). We learned that her doctorate is in business administration, and that she’s the director of Commonwealth Media Services, which helps the Governor’s office and other state clients get their messages out. The DN also noted that she “was dressed with Jackie O panache, in a peach-colored dress and coat with high heels and dark wraparound sunglasses. And it sure looked like she had won Ed’s vote.”
At a time when yet another state budget still hasn’t been passed, the Famous sighting has made the Governor and the blonde the talk of both Philly and Harrisburg. Was Ed Rendell, with only eight months left in office, openly parading a girlfriend, a woman who works for him?
Several prominent people we talked to certainly think so. And that he has mentally checked out of governing in Harrisburg. Though when we asked them to put what they believe on the record, they went scurrying for the hills.
But then we asked Dr. Snow and the Governor if they’d talk to us. It turns out that they were more than willing.